Another this vs that thread...

I had pretty much settled on getting a new canoe by February or March next year, and tentatively narrowed it down to a Nova Craft Bob Special or a Pal - unless I find a killer deal on some other used boat that will suffice. I’ve just come across a deal on a 1 year old, like new, Nova Craft 16’ Prospector in Blue Steel for $1400. Now I can’t decide whether to jump on the deal or not.

Here’s my situation…

We’ve been using a Navarro Legacy for the last year, as a “learner” - and have been doing class 1 rivers (some with "mini-rapids) and small lakes. We want something more capable to match our learned abilities, but don’t intend to be running anything much over class II water. Most of our use will be class II or less rivers and some mountain lakes. The wife and I are both on the small side - our combined weight is under 300lbs. We hope to do some overnight paddle trips, but it’s not likely that we’ll do anything longer than that. Some of the rivers we want to run are bony in spots, though not seriously rocky (we drug over some gravel bars that snuck up on us in the Legacy, doing a run that we are sure to repeat). At some point, we wish to try our hand at canoe sailing.

I can’t afford a new boat in Blue Steel or Kevlar - but on the other hand, we would get on the water a lot more with a lightweight boat. We are, I guess, middle-aged - and I have had some minor issues with my back. OTOH - I’m thinking maybe Royalex will be less likely to suffer significant damage when inadvertently scraped over submerged rocks? The idea of keeping the weight well under 60lbs is very attractive though (our Legacy weighs 58lbs, and the B-S Prospector weighs 48, I think), as portages are a definite reality and we will be car-topping (mini-truck, actually). The other big issue would be the difference in tracking between the Prospector and the Bob or Pal designs. Would we notice an increase or a decrease in tracking ability over our short, stubby Legacy with the Prospector?

Based on your experience - what would be our best choice for an all-arounder? The used (but like-new) B-S Prospector, or the Bob Special or Pal, in Royalex? Or should we toughen-up and get a RX Prospector (they do make a 15’ that is lighter) in RX?

The NovaCraft…
…Prospector is a fine canoe. A friend has the kevlar version, and he has done just about everything you could ever want to do in it - the 100 Lake Challenge (mostly solo), Labrador’s Churchill River, assorted Newfoundland rivers, open ocean paddling, dragging it loaded thru shallow creeks - you name it, it’s been there, done that. Even wrapped it around a rock in a river just at dusk, ended up having to leave it wrapped overnight with the bottom forced up against the centre thwart, the full force of the current flowing into the canoe - next morning, he used a long pry bar to free it, and it popped right back into shape - some gelcoat damage, one cracked gunwale, but NO LEAKS.

Fine design, tough as a gad - I don’t think you can find a better general purpose canoe. We have a BlueWater kevlar Prospector, which is a nice boat indeed, but I like his NovaCraft better.


Rick Hayes

Feel free to email me if you want any more info.

Lightweight vs your back
Better to put the wear and tear on the blue steel hull than wear out your back roof racking or portaging a heavy canoe. Boats don’t get lighter as the years go by and owning a hull that is heavy enough that it becomes a consideration whether you go out paddling or not shouldn’t drive your paddling decisions. Go for the blue steel, your back will thank you.

Okay, Duluth - your point is taken…
…on the Blue Steel. I might as well go for something light. We’ve discussed that here, and it’s settled - even if we have to wait a bit.

Now, anyone else want to weigh in on whether I should go for this “used” Prospector, or hold out for the Pal or the Bob in B-S? (Thanks Rick, BTW)

Would we notice much difference between the three?

Various options

– Last Updated: Nov-28-07 7:14 PM EST –

First of all, the Prospector in Royalex is heavy - I'm too lazy to look it up, but somewhere in the 70 lb. range seems to be about right. You buy it because it's tough, not because you enjoy putting in on your truck rack. If you decide on the Prospector, the blue steel boat you are looking at is the way to go.
I like the Prospector best as a moving water boat, but it's okay on the flats as long as you aren't in a hurry. The bow paddler would probably prefer the Prospector over the Bob because the Prospecter would give him/her more leg room.

The Bob Special is a nice boat. Reasonly efficient and pretty maneuverable. However, whoever gets to sit in the bow will find that the front seat is very close to the front of the boat. Close to the front as in there is hardly enough room to sit, plus if the bow paddler doesn't have steady nerves (s)he might be a bit unsettled by being almost on the nose of the boat when the waves kick up a little bit. That's the only thing I didn't like about it. Incidentally, I think it comes in Royalite, but not Royalex.

Both the Bob and the Prospector are very maneuverable and will handle a good load.
Both have good primary and secondary stability. Novacraft build quality always seems to be pretty good.

I've only paddled the Pal solo on a small calm lake. It seemed like a decent boat, but again,I'd recommend taking a look at the weights of the different layups and, like Duluth Moose said, boats don't get lighter as the years go by.

Thanks for the replies, guys…
Unfortunately, I hesitated and missed the deal. Oh well…

Guess I’ll keep looking and keep adding to the boat fund.

BTW - this site and you guys/gals are great!